Wednesday 29 April 2009

Tough cookie in the baking

Ah I should have begun to blog three years ago. Try as I might, I simply can't remember whether Ads was hitting his milestones in the same manner as lady Y is. She is spunky and adventurous. He was (and still is) extremely cautious. She can't resist putting everything she handles, into her mouth. Ads was (and is) so finicky that he will examine every new food item several times before he condescends to taste it. As a baby, I never had to worry about inappropriate items finding their way into his stomach. She is quicker to anger and harder to pacify than he was. To sum up, she is developing into one tough cookie.
Y, although not crawling yet, is managing to find her away about the house quite well. She slithers and slides across the floor in a manner reminiscent of a seal/sea lion. She attacks Ads' stack of books and artwork which he has stored in a corner of the living room. RIIIPPPP - a crayoned drawing is torn in half. Before she starts working on his favourite book, he yells in dismay and yanks everything out of her reach in panicked haste. She has managed to make him clear his mess out of the living room and into the guest bedroom, where it belongs - a feat that I never managed to accomplish in the last couple of years.
Early this morning, I found her crawling with her eyes still shut, all over her sleeping brother -- in a vain quest for her morning cuppa milk. A case of mistaken identity, indeed! The day is not too far away when she will start harassing Ads in earnest. For all his bluff and bluster, my son is an innocent (we would call him saadhu in Tamil).

Saturday 25 April 2009

Swimming like a fish? Not yet!

Ads has had 3 swimming lessons so far. He bawled his heart out the first time, cried a little bit at the beginning of the second lesson but settled down soon; and got third time lucky and managed a tear-free lesson. Whew. The class has a maximum of 4 kids at any given time. The coach gives roughly 7 minutes of individual attention to each kid in a 30-minute class (more if one of the kids doesn't show up). They get carried around the pool on a dumbbell-like apparatus, get held face up in the water by the coach to practice floatation, are asked to jump into the pool from the sides and into the coach's arms and do some kicking exercises to strengthen their leg muscles. S and I stay well away from Ads' line of sight in case he starts bawling again. In a couple more classes, he will be okay with us observing from a better vantage point I think. At the end of the class, the kids form a choo-choo train behind the coach and do a few laps around their portion of the pool. Ads is hungry as a hunter by the time he is done. I am looking forward to the summer when I can take him to the many recreational pools dotted around the Bay Area and enjoy the sight of him having fun in the water.
Here are 2 photos clicked before he left for swim class this week. We got him a new pair of swim trunks+swim shirt and goggles. They give him the flippers in class.

Y starts solids

Y is now five and a half months old and I started her on solids a few days ago. She has been ready and willing for solid food for atleast a month now, but I kept putting it off. It is so convenient to nurse. No sterilizing utensils and spoons, wiping spills, mixing and measuring, dish-washing....Plus a part of me is unwilling to let go of that precious mother-baby bond. But anyway, she started on rice cereal a few days ago and I am planning to introduce apples next week; so in a couple of months I will be lugging around baby food on top of everything else. My heart isn't in it :)
I remember how I slaved over Ads' first feed. Family and friends strongly recommended 'ragi' as the first food. So my mother and I procured fresh ragi flour, cleaned it by seiving through a thin cotton cloth, stored enough for a few feeds then carefully cooked it with milk and a little jaggery. All in the quest of being the perfect mom feeding her perfect cherub the perfect first food. What a waste of time and effort. I must have been the typical paranoid first-time mother, inexperienced and bowed down by the weighty and often unsolicited advice of others.
For Y, I condescended to go to Target and pick out my choice of cereal (instead of leaving that job to S!) and that's all the effort I was willing to take. I am sure she will grow up to be as healthy as Ads even with store-bought food products :)

Thursday 16 April 2009

A quest for wildflowers

An active fun-filled outdoorsy weekend. Just the kind I like. Some days ago, I planned a weekend excursion to see wildflowers. I see them everywhere now in the city, noddling their colourful heads in the breeze. They look so pretty and alluring that I started getting visions of flower-strewn wilds a la the Yash Chopra flicks. I researched online and asked around some, and found out that the best place to see spring wildflowers, was the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve near Palo Alto. So I asked S's second cousin and his wife if they would like to come, got everyone excited about seeing thousands and thousands of flowers, and off we went on Saturday morning.
45 minutes and a long winding drive later, we were there. And ahem. Not a hint of flowers anywhere. Plus it was windy and cold. Brrr. I was getting dagger-like looks from everybody including S for having dragged them to this god-forsaken place. But we gamely started hiking the Ridge Trail, which was a moderate 1.5 mile hike designed to show us the best views of errr.....wildflowers. The trail was pretty typical, lots of greenery all around and the trees forming a thick canopy over our heads. Less than half a mile of this and abruptly the scenery changed. The trees fell away, disclosing verdant green slopes falling away steeply into a valley, and blue hills in the distance. Breathtaking. The wildflowers were there and they were very pretty but we probably jumped the gun and came early in the season so we didn't see as many as we could have. But the sun came out, the exercise kept us warm and the beauty of the countryside warmed us some more. Ads was very good about walking all that way uphill and I felt proud of myself for doing the same with a 16-lb baby strapped to my front. We had a picnic lunch half-way up the trail. We could have hiked the entire trail at the end of which we were supposed to be able to see the SF Bay and the Pacific ocean, but Ads was getting tired so we never made it that far.
On Sunday, we had a date at Shoreline park in Mountain View with some more relatives. They have a large lake and Ads had fun putting on a life vest and paddling in the boat. A relaxed ending to a very nice weekend.

The busiest person in the house

It's Ads. Yes he has the most packed and varied weekly schedule of us all. School 5 mornings a week. Gymnastics on Tuesday afternoons. Swim lessons on Wednesday (late) evenings at 7 pm. Playgroup on Thursdays. I consciously kept Monday and Friday free, not because, being a caring mom, I wanted to keep my tiny son from being overscheduled; but because, we might do a lot of weekend trips over the spring and summer and we might leave on a Friday afternoon or come back only on Monday afternoon and I don't want his classes to interfere with our joyrides :)
A couple of days ago, I decided that he needed to learn music. He has a loud clear voice and can carry a tune very well. Not surprising considering the plethora of musical genes on both sides of the family. What's more, I decided to teach him. God knows I never pursued my study of music with single-minded determination or I might have actually learnt something, but I do know enought to teach him the basics. So yesterday, after his nap, I started (with great excitement, I might add). I got him as far as sitting cross-legged opposite me on the carpet (a pose that he calls "Criss cross applesauce). As soon as I started singing "Sa Ri Ga" and asking him to repeat, he started fooling around. He jumped into my lap, put his face really close to mine, ran to Y and bugged her some, insisted we sing one of his favourite songs "Lots and lots of fire trucks", and so on and so forth. It didn't help that his grandma got into the spirit of things and started singing the notes to Y at the same time that I was trying to get Ads to repeat them after me. So I dragged him to the bedroom, sat him firmly on my lap and asked him to repeat the notes after me a few times. Which he did, now that he didn't have an audience watching his pranks. I let him go after that; I didn't expect him to sit still even for this long and it was good enough for a beginning. Structured learning is not going to happen in our home and it's too much to expect Ads to sit still and be disciplined especially when it's his mommy teaching him. I will keep at it and I am sure after several weeks he would have picked up a lot of stuff without conscious effort.
I was actually wondering whether Carnatic music has any short super-easy songs for children to learn. I know the Geethams are supposed to be easy but they might be a bit too complicated for a very young child. I know Ads would be much more interested if he could actually learn a song or two; who wants to learn boring notes??

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Ad-lib #2

Ads is developing a much stronger American accent now that he goes to school everyday. One pronunciation which hasn't changed though (S calls it the "Sun TV pronunciation") is the way he says "computer" - Kum-peeter.
His grandmother has been teaching him shlokas and he is very happy to show off his new-found knowledge of "Buddhir balam", "Shantakaram" etc. He has a really good memory and it takes just a couple of repetitions for him to memorize things. Daadhi (as he calls S's mom) was telling him a story about Yashoda and Krishna and at one point Yashoda leaves Krishna and sits on the grass and he was curious to know what she was doing there. Was she painting her nails? (Yeah that's what his mommy does when she has some free time!) Was she using a lawnmower to mow the grass?
Now that he knows how to express his emotions, he is very quick to tell me when I displease him in some way. His standard comeback is "You are a bad mommy. I don't like you."
Ouch. That really really hurts.

Resident Husain

Ads has become art-crazy of late. He spends a lot of time in school drawing, judging by the artwork that overflows his cubby everyday. Pencils and crayons on paper are the medium of choice. Every drawing carries a story. He has also been tracing shapes on paper - circles, squares, rectangles, hexagons and so on. The upshot of all this concentrated effort is that now he is able to render the drawing of a car, complete with wheels and all, very creditably. A wholly unexpected and pleasant side-effect of this new-found hobby is that he can frequently amuse and absorb himself for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. I'm thrilled to note how creative he can be, and it's nice that he loves reading and art - two of my passions. I can already tell that he is musically-inclined too, but that runs in the family so it's hardly surprising.

Saturday 11 April 2009

You ruined everything in the nicest way

What? Really?
Now they tell me?
Why didn't I plod through the reams and reams of research on this subject before I plotted to have kids?
I agree with all of the observations but the conclusion, however scientifically it may be derived, foxes me. Zero association between having children and happiness? Give me a break. I don't know anybody who has taken a conscious reasoned decision to have kids and regretted it even for an instant. I don't know any parent who has wanted to have kids, and having had them, has not believed their child (and parenthood) to be the most beautiful and joyous thing to have happened to them.
Yes, the sum total of irritating and stressful experiences which come with being a mum or dad may outweigh the sum total of positive experiences, especially during the early years. But there are enough positive strokes for parenthood to be an extremely worthwhile and meaningful experience. Being a mother has made me a better and stronger person, and enriched my life in ways I never dreamed possible. And yes, it has also made me much much happier (if somewhat - no, a LOT - more stressed). How about that?
Musician and songwriter Jonathan Coulton nails it spot-on with a lovely song about the double-edged sword that is parenthood. Apparently he wrote it for his daughter. I love what he has to say.
I was fine,

I pulled myself together
Just in time,

To throw my self away

Once my perfect world was gone
I knew,
You ruined everything in the nicest way

You should know,

How great things were before you

Even so,
They’re better still today

Now I can’t think who I was before

You ruined everything in the nicest way

Bumps in the road remind us

The worst of the best behind us

Only good things will find us, me and you

Days will be clear and sunny

We’re gonna need more money

Baby you know it’s funny

All those stories coming,

Despite my better efforts,

It’s all for you
the worst kind of cliché

I’ll be with you till the day you leave

You ruined everything in the nicest way

Sunday 5 April 2009

Adorable adorable...

I won a pair of baby shoes for Y by entering some random online contest. They are the ones in the top left corner. They are so so so darn cute! Y actually has 4 pairs of shoes now - a trifle excessive for someone who can't even crawl, much less walk, don't you think? They are all hand-me-downs except for the one pair of ankle boots that I won in the contest.
Poor Ads - no cute shoes for him, just some clunky keds from Walmart that he wears everywhere.

Thursday 2 April 2009

Grandma's musings

My mother sent me this note about Ads and I want to post it on the blog. A grandmother's perspective on my crazy adorable son would be interesting except that my mom decided that she wanted to remember only the nicest things about him. Hey, what about bringing on all the scary forgettable stuff? Selective memory, mom?
A little bit of delay on my part to share my experiences with Advaith, but then I was as usual attending to "Babies" here who missed my presence during the last six months! Kunjali, as i usually called Advaith is so adorable & the mere thought of him made us smile till of course little Yukta came along. Then we made ourselves available to both of them as much as we could, not missing any moment to be with them . The code word was 'living in the present' & we did just that. Advaith was our first grandchild & naturally we doted on him. We cherish the time we spent with him & enjoyed every moment of it. A nonstop chatterbox Rajee & thatha were his close friends who would heed all his demands. Thatha was his assistant in the fire-game & naani was the one who would construct the train tracks & play patiently with him. Our imaginary world of Jake, Steve, Bobby & Vishnu was so delightful. I was constantly devising new ideas like making a tent with a dupatta & sitting inside it, imagining us sitting in a boat & he would be thrilled & play along. A total introvert out of home he takes his own time to mingle with others. But once it is done there is no stopping him. A very emotional child, tears well in his eyes on trivial matters. He is often stubborn & throws tantrums. We rush to his rescue when his mom shouts at him like all grandparents because we cannot bear to see him cry! I can distinctly remember his so very naughty face when he flushed the toilet & smilingly & proudly told us that he has disposed off trash which was a bag full of paper! I can never forget the expression on Aps' face -she was just aghast!! He is such a cutie pie that we can never be angry with him. It is a sight to see him cuddle Yukta. So that is a bit of Advaith, grandma's pet. Thank you Ads for making me a child once again & forgetting all my worries & pains for a few months!

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Whooosh....and a day is over

The weekdays are a blur. The weekends even more so. Life is happening at high-speed. I guess that's how it is in every family with two small children. My only true regret is that I don't seem to be enjoying Y's babyhood as much as I did Ads'. I simply don't get that much 1-on-1 time with her and when Ads is around, he makes sure he has the lion's share of my attention. So far, she has been low-maintenance but very soon she is going to get more mobile and more demanding. She has had one fall from the bed already (thank god for carpet), her neck and shoulder muscles are really strong now and she is trying really really hard to crawl.
All this constant activity and racing around has had one very pleasant side-effect. I now fit into all of my old trousers and jeans. Hurray for stress-induced weight loss! I have also managed to rip my favourite pair of blue jeans in the ankle and the knee, which gives me a very hip grunge look. It's all about being cool for your kids, right?
Today the school had a coffee-and-muffins fundraiser for the junior high's field trip to DC later in the summer. I picked up some muffins and a cup of simply delicious 7-spice organic "chai tea". I sat in the car in the school parking lot, getting my first caffeine fix of the day, and savouring not just the tea but the unexpected peace and silence. One of the many skills you learn after having kids, is how to recharge and re-energize yourself very quickly. 1 quick cup of tea, a short power nap or 5 minutes of silence, and I am good for the rest of the day.

Tremors NOT caused by Ads

I got a short one-word sms from S yesterday. It just said "Earthquake". He was at work and had felt a small quake. I had just gotten back home after some errands, with Ads in tow (we kept him home from school because of a bad cold) but hadn't felt anything. A little later, I went to S's closet to hang up some of his clothes and noticed that two of his belts and our cold-weather clothes had all fallen down to the closet floor, apparently due to the tremors. We live right next door to a Caltrain station and sometimes things in the apartment shake when a train passes by. I suppose that's why I didn't notice anything unusual.
I simply HAVE to do something about our disaster preparedness. It is on the top of my things-to-do list and hopefully I will get a disaster kit in place by the end of this month.